Many of my talented friends who happen to be indefatigable activists seeking nothing but the fulfilment of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India and in the international declarations and treaties India is party to, are often derided by Hindu fanatics as ‘ricebags’.
Meaning that their ancestors had — so the Hindu fanatics’ narrative goes — converted out of horrendous Brahminical Hinduism in which they were facing daily, hourly humiliation and torture, in exchange for quantities of food.
Hey, you semi-literate cheddis: That so many adherents of your dear, great, sacred religion were starving and that some from another were stealing your flock — with, N.B. a bag of rice or two or even many multiples thereof — and that you did nothing, NOTHING, to stop it?
What does that say about the conduct of the adherents of your religion when faced with the plight of your coreligionists?
Has it ever occurred to you that those who converted out might’ve done so because:
1. They sought dignity, yes, the DIGNITY you lot denied them because of your horrendous caste oppression?
2. They were genuinely persuaded by the preaching they heard?
3. Just to come back to your ‘ricebag’ allegation, the peoples of their caste found the support your heartless lot failed to offer but that someone else did?
By the way, there are Hindus and Hindu temples strewn all over east Asia.
I’ve seen them with my own eyes: in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia…
How did you lot achieve that?
Incidentally, vast areas of the southern Asian subcontinent – including my state, Karnataka — had once been peaceful homes to Buddhists and Jains, as plenty of architectural structures testify. How did you ‘Aryan’ Brahminical Hindu lot get to convert most of them, or should I say, us? With something as life-nourishing as rice or other food products, perhaps?
A few years ago, I got invited — thanks to having interacted with diplomats while having been a foreign correspondent — to tea at one of the most prestigious clubs in Bangalore where a few retired diplomats graced the occasion.
Including a former Foreign Secretary, the topmost civil servant in charge of Indian foreign policy.
Had met the worthy for a briefing before embarking as reporter in Beijing for the Press Trust of India news agency decades earlier.
At the Club event, within earshot of two distinguished former colleagues of his, both Christians (and a talented son of one of theirs), said worthy began telling me that he thought the Christian population in India accounted not for two point something percent but for 16% and that converts were being told to keep quiet because they were benefiting from ‘reservations’ (=.affirmative action) or whatever tattered reservations for a tiny number of government jobs remain, now that so many have been contracted out or dispensed with.
My immediate — albeit unexpressed — reaction was that he was being uncouth.
Much, much later it occurred to me that I wished he were right.
We need many, many more Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and sensible Hindus to resist the looming Hindutva fascist menace.
One of my brilliant friends who I know from the late 1970s, a strategic analyst — once left-inclined but now mostly nationalist and pro-US — was telling me a couple of years ago after his scintillating lecture at an institution of higher learning in north Bangalore that he’d heard a lot of conversions were taking place in a certain state.
The better to resist Hindu supremacist fascism, I responded
He said these evangelical types were reputed to be as bad.
Hell, yeah, let ’em take each other on.
P.S.: This post is dedicated to Dr Sylvia Karpagam, Bangalore-based public health doctor, who gets massively trolled and whose energy, patience and perseverance are astounding, to say the least.
And John Dayal, veteran journalist and human rights activist.
Spot on, Sir! When and where were you with AFP? I was with AFP from 1993 to 2001, heading the Mumbai bureau.
I was with AFP HK from Jan 1995 until Feb 2006 (2005-06 I was in Hanoi). I remember your byline.